By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
WARSAW, Poland – Richard Spencer, the American white nationalist, is not welcome in Poland.
The Polish government has issued statements condemning Spencer’s views as a threat to democracy and objecting to his upcoming visit to Warsaw. Foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski stated that Spencer should not appear publicly in Poland, describing him as someone who “defames what happened during World War II, defames the Holocaust.”
Spencer is the white supremacist who organized the Charlottesville, Virginia rally that killed a counter-protestor in August after the rally turned violent. He has since held other rallies and is looking to expand his message to Europe.
He was invited by several far-right Polish organizations to speak at a conference in Warsaw that took place on November 10th. The National Social Congress announced that Spencer would speak at a panel discussion during its “Europe of Future” meeting. The annual conference is organized by the far-right to celebrate Polish Independence Day. In past years, marches held on November 11th by far-right extremists were some of the largest extremist gatherings in Europe.
Spencer’s followers consist of members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. They support his condemnation of diversity and embrace his far-right ideologies including nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. Studies show that anti-Semitism and xenophobia is on the rise in Poland, which will likely help Spencer draw an audience there.
The government had been pressured to prevent Spencer from speaking at the event. “Spencer’s views strike not only the Jewish community or other minority groups. The hatred that Spencer and his followers proclaim is a threat to all who are close to the values of human rights and democracy,” said Agnieszka Markiewicz, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Central European office.
When the Polish Border Guard was contracted regarding the issue, a spokeswoman declined to divulge any information, citing privacy regulations. Spencer did not end up attending.
In 2014, Hungary Spencer’s think tank, the National Policy Institute, was prevented from holding a conference. When Spencer defied the ban, he was arrested, deported and banned from entering Europe’s 26 visa-free countries for three years.
The Polish Foreign Ministry said “As a country which was one of the biggest victims of Nazism, we believe that the ideas promoted by Mr. Spencer and his followers could pose a threat to all those who hold dear the values of human rights and democracy.”
For more information, please see:
The Guardian – Poland to Richard Spencer – Keep Out – 27 October 2017
The New York Times – Poland Objects to Visit by White Nationalist Richard Spencer – 27 October 2017
Newsweek – Richard Spencer is too Racist for Poland’s Right-Wing Government – 27 October 2017
The Washington Times – Poland Opposes Visit From Richard Spencer, White Nationalist and Charlottesville Rally Participant – 27 October 2017